Taking your driving test can be a stressful and costly experience, with months of practice, passing your theory test checked off the list and lots of expectation on your shoulders. So, if it finally comes to the big day and it’s not good news, it can be hard to take. However, never fear, you wouldn’t be alone in not passing first time. A recent poll suggested that the pass rate is as low as 42%, so where is it that people are going wrong?

According to the Driving Standards Agency the top ten reasons for failing the practical test are:

1. Observation at junctions – ineffective observation and judgement

2. Reverse parking – ineffective observation or lack of accuracy

3. Use of mirrors – not checking or not acting on the information

4. Moving away – ineffective observation or control when moving away

5. Use of signals – not given, not cancelled or misleading signals

6. Incorrect positioning – at roundabouts, lanes and bends

7. Reversing around a corner – ineffective observation or lack of accuracy

8. Lack of steering control – steering too early or leaving it too late

9. Turn round in road – ineffective observation or lack of accuracy

10. Inappropriate speed – travelling too slowly

So, bearing in mind the above, what can you be doing to ensure you have the best chance of passing? Below, we’ve listed our top five tips…

1.Knowledge is power

Simply having familiarised yourself with the list above may provide you with a good base to ensure you are fully prepared for your test. Perhaps print it out and take it on your next lesson to run through with your instructor. Ensuring that the above are top of mind should stand you in good stead come test day.

2. Be confident

When it comes to being watched on a test, this can be nerve-wracking to say the least. But, as we can see from the above list, confidence is key to passing your test – sticking to the speed limit and not hesitating crop up for example. When you are driving, try to be decisive in your moves. Take time to make a decision and then once it’s made, stick with it. Often it’s the hesitation or quick panic to change something that fails you rather than the decision itself.

3. Overcompensate

Proper observation comes up a few times in the list so our advice would be to become a stage actor for the duration of your test. Make sure every look in the mirror or out of a window is distinct. Remember, your examiner will often be looking down at their marking sheet so it’s your job to ensure they see every good observation you’re making. 

4. Manoeuvre, manoeuvre, manoeuvre

Manoeuvres come up frequently in the top ten list of reasons we don’t pass our test so it’s really important we practice these. If possible, get out and do them as many times as you can at different times of the day so you experience varied levels of traffic flows, weather conditions and areas along your test route.

5. Practice makes perfect

It may seem obvious but the above couldn’t be more true when it comes to driving. There is nothing like having real road experience when you come around to taking your driving test. The more you get out, the more habitual driving becomes and the less likely you are to forget the basics such as observations and indicating, etc. Book as many practice lessons as you can afford and, if you are going out with a parent or sibling who’s passed their test to get some miles under your belt, make sure they’re up to speed on what you’ve been taught and the latest Highway Code so that they don’t instil any bad driving habits on you!

Best of luck in your tests! Remember to practice, stay calm and be confident. We’d love to hear your driving test stories so feel free to share them on our Facebook page here.

Sarah Lewis


November 12, 2015

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